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Dining Out 6 minutes 13 August 2020

What To Order At The 21 New Bib Gourmand Eateries in Taichung

In the first ever edition guide to Taichung, MICHELIN inspectors recognised 21 venues with a Bib Gourmand distinction for serving value-for-money food. We delve into the inspectors' notebooks to highlight the unmissable dishes offered at each venue.

MICHELINGUIDETW MICHELINSTAR20 Bib Gourmand

On August 11, MICHELIN revealed its first ever Bib Gourmand list for the city of Taichung, on which 21 venues were highlighted in the debut selection. The Bib Gourmand distinction is given to eateries that offer a high-quality three-course meal for less than 1,000 Taiwan dollars (excluding drinks).

Of the 21 Taichung venues, 7 of them are located in the city's West District, 6 in the Central District, while others can be found in the Nantun, Beitun, Taiping and North districts. We asked our MICHELIN inspectors what impressed them about the eateries, and the must-order dishes at each venue.

READ MORE: Taipei & Taichung 2020 Bib Gourmand Selection Announced

Fu Juang Yuan's pork trotters are simmered in "liquid gold", a braising liquid made with soy sauce, rock sugar, chilli and shallots.
Fu Juang Yuan's pork trotters are simmered in "liquid gold", a braising liquid made with soy sauce, rock sugar, chilli and shallots.

West District

Chilliesine (West)

Now with two branches in Taichung, Chilliesine has been serving authentic food from across India since 2015. The kitchen team hails from both the north and the south and cooks exclusively with spices from home – you can specify your desired spiciness in certain dishes. Tandoori chicken packs a punch with big flavours and aromas; Chana masala is not to be missed either. The menu also offers vegan options and popular choices for children.

Fu Juang Yuan

One of the most famous places in town for marinated pork trotters, this shop keeps the liquid gold – made with soy, rock sugar, chilli and shallot – on a gentle simmer all day, hence the comforting aroma. While trotters are prized for their gelatinous texture, upper leg cuts strike a balance between fat, skin and meat. Side dishes such as shredded bamboo shoots are also good. Instead of plain steamed rice, try it with a drizzle of marinade.

Gubami

The chef of a no-longer-open French restaurant opened this beef noodle soup shop in 2018, reinterpreting this classic dish using Western techniques and ingredients. The clear broth version uses Miyazaki Wagyu with fine noodles, whereas the red-braised variety uses Canadian short ribs with chunky noodles and truffle chilli sauce on the side, both slow-cooked for over 10 hours. Noodles are custom-made partly with Italian flour; sides also fare well.

The kitchen team behind Lu Yuan has over three decades of experience preparing classic Jiangzhe comfort food.
The kitchen team behind Lu Yuan has over three decades of experience preparing classic Jiangzhe comfort food.

Lu Yuan

Though founder Chef Lu is no longer at the helm, the kitchen team who worked with him for over 30 years now shoulder the responsibility of realizing his culinary vision – classic Jiangzhe comfort food that emphasizes depth of flavour through the precise use of heat. Braised crucian carp with scallion is filled with plump roe and crispy bones while stir-fried swamp eel strips in Ningbo style, and luffa with dried scallops are also good.

Moment in Beijing

Named after Lin Yutang’s novel and styled after grand mansions in northern China with its gable roof and grey tiles, this well-known restaurant has been attracting a loyal following since 2002. Signature crispy duck legs are steamed, deep-fried and served with pancakes, cucumber and sweet-savoury sauce. Pickled cabbage and streaky pork soup is flavoursome, with a hint of tartness. Finish off with sticky rice paste in osmanthus sauce or sesame cake.

1924 Shanghai Restaurant 

This four-storey restaurant has an old Shanghai theme, hence the name. Semi-circular tufted banquettes, pendant faux gas lamps, and ruby velvet curtains are all reminiscent of 1920s glamour. The menu is typical Jiangzhe fare: braised ‘lion head’ pork balls, stir-fried swamp eel, bamboo shoot and salted pork soup, along with some Suzhou and Hangzhou cold appetizers. Live singing performances on Wednesday and Saturday nights add to the fun.

Shin Yuan

This spinoff of Shan Shin opened in 2018 and specializes in healthy Taiwanese cooking in small portion sizes – something that will appeal to lone diners. Both chicken lollipops with taro in coconut milk, and Cherry Valley duck with pineapple go well with steamed rice; and do order the springy, juicy cuttlefish chicken balls as a starter. There is an array of quality teas to choose from; the cold-brewed ones are particularly worth trying.

RELATED: What MICHELIN Inspectors Said About The 7 New Bib Gourmand Eateries In Taipei 2020

A generous dab of the sweet chilli sauce at 50-year-old A Kun Mian is highly recommended.
A generous dab of the sweet chilli sauce at 50-year-old A Kun Mian is highly recommended.

Central District

A Kun Mian

Most Taichungians will be familiar with this shop as it’s been around for more than five decades – it’s now run by the third generation of the family. Open only till noon, it serves blanched noodles tossed in braised ground pork sauce and fried scallion – and a dab of the sweet chilli sauce is mandatory. Soups with crystal dumplings, fried tofu, pork balls or blood pudding are also popular; try them all by ordering an assortment.

Chin Chih Yuan

Founded in 1978, this shop made its name with its rice – steamed in a soft rush-woven pouch that imparts unique aromas. Though no longer cooked that way, quality local rice is now topped with a dab of house-made pickled potherb mustard for savoury sweetness. Deep-fried pork ribs, and beef in sacha sauce are the hottest choices to go with the rice. The food may take time to arrive as everything is prepared to order. Expect to queue at lunch.

Fu Din Wang (Central)

Diners come to this self-service shop for its pork trotter, hock and leg that are braised in a marinade of soy, fried shallot, sugar and chilli for up to four hours. The pork is gelatinous, tender and flavourful; it tastes even better with the house-made chilli sauce, but as opposed to the typical marinade with strong herbal undertones, its taste is clean and less complex. Braised diced pork rice and braised fried tofu are also good.

The goose noodle soup is one of the most popular signature dishes of Fu Kuei Ting.
The goose noodle soup is one of the most popular signature dishes of Fu Kuei Ting.

Fu Kuei Ting

Many Taichungians have fond childhood memories of this shop as it has over 60 years of history. Its signature goose noodle soup and smoked goose tend to sell out within the first 30 minutes every morning. The soup base features the Chinese herb Dang Gui, while the bird boasts springy flesh and robust flavours. If goose runs out, try the equally appealing duck version. Rice cakes in bamboo stem are also well made. Be prepared to share a table.

No Name Noodles

With over 70 years of history, this neighbourhood noodle shop is now run by the third generation of the family. Throughout those decades, regulars have been coming for the preservative-free Shanghainese noodle soup served with pork chop, beef shin or zhajiang sauce. The fried-to-order pork chop goes well with iced sour plum tea and the spicy pickled scallion and garlic. Don’t miss other side dishes such as pickled cucumber and string beans.

Qin Yuan Chun

Run by fourth-generation owners, this 70-plus-year-old family business is usually full of regulars. The dining room is plainly furnished, but customers don’t come for the ambiance, but the authentic Jiangzhe classics such as pork trotter aspic, drunken chicken and stir-fried swamp eel. Steamed-to-order xiao long bao boast thin, translucent skin and soupy pork filling. The take-out counter offers quick service for those on the go.

Shanghai Food's Shanghai-born owner is a Chinese herbalist by training.
Shanghai Food's Shanghai-born owner is a Chinese herbalist by training.

Nantun District

Orient Dragon

The façade may look a bit nondescript, but the interior boasts a red-and-black colour scheme perfect for weddings and power lunches. The blue and white porcelain dinnerware with its ruffled rim complements the teapot sets nicely. The menu focusses on Taiwanese home-style cooking, with a few novelty Sichuanese dishes. Recommendations include three-cup Matsusaka pork, steamed fourfinger threadfin, and the aromatic sakura ebi fried rice.

San Hsi Shih Tang

Frequented largely by regulars, this small shop is hidden away in a residential area. The owner-chef has years of experience in the business and takes care of every aspect of the operation, from sourcing ingredients to cooking and waiting tables. Look for the poster on the wall for the daily specials, which usually include meat, seafood and three-cup dishes. Some specialities such as steamed wild-caught catfish with garlic need pre-ordering.

Shanghai Food

A Chinese herbalist by training, the owner hails from Shanghai and was spoilt by his grandpa who made him all sorts of treats. After he moved to Taiwan, he spent three years trying to recreate the most authentic pan-fried buns from memory and opened this shop in 2009. The pork buns boast soupy filling with the perfect ratio of fatty and lean meat. The veggie buns are light and flavourful, filled with bok choy, dried tofu and mushrooms.

Tai Ke Meat Congee

Tai Ke may have only been here since 2018, but it can be traced back to the owner’s grandpa who started a congee stall in Zhongxiao night market almost 50 years ago – the interior is a nod to its heritage. The congee base is braised for hours with pork and chicken bones before ingredients of your choice, such as clams, beef or fish, are added. Deep-fried pork belly is marinated with 10-plus seasonings and is even better with the mildly tart dip.

Dong Shan Zhan's widely acclaimed roast chicken is grilled over longan wood for an hour.
Dong Shan Zhan's widely acclaimed roast chicken is grilled over longan wood for an hour.

Beitun District

Dong Shan Zhan

The household name for clay pot-roasted chicken since 1999 moved to this three-storey building in 2019. The larger premises mean more seats, while the exposed brick walls on the lower floors still exude traditional charm. The must-try chicken is grilled over longan wood for an hour for crispy golden skin and juicy silky flesh. You can have it served whole or sliced. Drunken shrimps and veggies braised in chicken juices are also recommended.

Wen Tao

Meaning ‘my home’, this single-storey courtyard house circa 1950s set amid tall residential buildings will instantly teleport guests back to grandma’s home in the countryside. The menu is mostly Taiwanese from a bygone era, with occasional Hunan and Xinjiang offerings. Old-time steamed river perch with fermented chillies has complex savoury umami with a mild kick. Barrel chicken is chargrilled in the courtyard and needs pre-ordering.

Don't miss the gua bao set at Peng Cheng Tang, a time capsule of a restaurant.
Don't miss the gua bao set at Peng Cheng Tang, a time capsule of a restaurant.

Taiping District

Peng Cheng Tang

A Taiwan time capsule circa 1960s, this restaurant amid low-rise residential blocks transports you back in time with its vintage knickknacks. Its home-style food is as warm and familiar as the décor. The gua bao set is hugely popular – steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly, bamboo shoot, pickles and ground peanuts; while the stir-fried beef with Madeira vine is gingery and flavourful. Help yourself to the steamed rice with lard.

North District 

Shang Niu Erh Kuan

The owner travels to a farm in Yunlin every morning for the best beef slaughtered on the spot and then hurries back without chilling the meat – this is called ‘wenti’ in Taiwan, meaning still at body temperature. Hand-sliced on ordering, the beef is blanched in an ox bone veggie broth for 3 seconds before being eaten – still tender, flavourful and juicy. Besides hot pot, three-cup braised beef tendons and beef stir-fries are also popular.

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